The Leon County Sheriff’s Office Canine Unit is a valuable resource utilized by its members and other law enforcement agencies in the community.
In most states, a police dog is considered a full-fledged law enforcement officer, sometimes even given a badge. As such, most laws find assaulting a police dog to be equal or very similar to assaulting a human officer. The psychological effect of a law enforcement canine is tremendous, and their deterrent effect on crime cannot be measured. The canine is not to replace law enforcement officers, but to work as a member of a canine/handler team.
The canine’s remarkable smelling and hearing senses are key reasons for their utilization. These senses combined with their speed and agility allows the canines to perform functions the human law enforcement officer can not.
A Canine Team consists of a deputy and his assigned agency canine partner. The team is available for assignments 24-hours per day. Canine teams conduct law enforcement duties and utilize their canine partner for building searches looking for hidden offenders, locating missing persons, tracking suspects, performing article searches, detecting narcotics, and conducting public service canine demonstrations giving the public a better understanding of what the team's capability.
Each Canine Team will go through a patrol training program at a minimum of 480 hours plus an additional 200 hours in narcotic detection training. Once the program is completed, the Canine Team will have to certify with the State of Florida and/or the Florida Law Enforcement Canine Association. Once the Canine Team passes certification, the Team can then perform their patrol duties.
The Leon County Sheriff’s Office Canine Training Facility is located at Gene Cox Stadium. Although they can be seen training anywhere in the county to better associate the team with different environments. Handler and Canine conditioning are important factors in a team’s success. Training is constant and consistent.